COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A man convicted of murdering a local police officer last year now waits to hear if he will be sentenced to the death penalty.
Lincoln Rutledge shot and killed Columbus SWAT Officer Steven Smith at a barricade April of 2016. Starting Monday, the same jury that convicted him is hearing from Rutledge’s family about what kind of person he is.
Monica Rutledge, Lincoln’s mother said as a boy he was a fun-loving and creative but started slipping mentally after his divorce from Jennifer Young.
Rutledge’s defense attorney Mitch Williams asked his mother what she wanted to say to his jury.
“I would ask you to have mercy on my son,” she said facing the jury and wiping away tears.
Mrs. Rutledge said they were in North Carolina when they heard from an acquaintance on Facebook about the shooting and fire, where a police officer was killed and Lincoln was shot through the shoulder and suffered burns and glass cuts.
“What caused this to happen, I have no idea. I know that Lincoln’s life is valuable and if his life was done he never would have survived,” Mrs. Rutledge said.
Dan Hogan, one of the two members of the prosecution team asked Mrs. Rutledge if she knew that before the shooting Rutledge was mixing alcohol and marijuana with his depression medication? “She said not until recently.”
Lincoln’s Uncle Michael Hupp was up next on the stand claiming if the outcome with Lincoln Rutledge had been handled differently early on he said: “We wouldn’t be in this situation.”
“Are you aware that when authorities tried to intervene your nephew got on his motorcycle and took off to Missouri so they couldn’t find him?” said Hogan. “No, I wasn’t aware of that!” Hupp replied.
After a lunch break jurors heard from local mental health experts from NetCare Assist who talked about Rutledge’s threatening OSU staff and friends.
“There were some threats that he may go to harm OSU staff or professors and then put the handgun in his mouth and kill himself,” said Joel Badanes with NetCare.
He said initial reports were Rutledge was having delusions, had a handgun, threatening people with it.
NetCare filed an affidavit with the courts to try and force Rutledge into getting mental health help, but he fled in early April and the order expired. The state says another phycologist examined Rutledge.
Rutledge’s sister was the last person to testify and pleaded with the jury. “I just want him to get better, that is my wish for him is to get some mental help and I want my Lincoln back,” said Molly Martin.
The jury could hear two more days of testimony and then possibly deliberate on Wednesday evening.
The jury could sentence Rutledge to death, life without parole, life without parole for 30 years or life without parole for 25 years.